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3.9 out of 5 stars17
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 30 September 2010
I've just had the absolute pleasure of finishing After America and it has been the first book for a long, long time that has had me gripped from start to finish.

Without Warning, the previous book by the author was very good and this one takes off from where that one finished. Once you are able to let your imagination go a bit and follow the (initially) far fetched story, you'll soon be immersed in a thoroughly enjoyable 'what if' read.

If you enjoy alternative history, end of the world, America not always coming out on top type books, then to you I heartily recommend both the book and the author.

All that I need to do now is wait for the author to release another book !
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I really enjoyed the first book in the series, a great idea really well executed with a lot of thought going into the consequence of the US being taken out of the picture.
After America kicks forward a few years with the US being free of the mysterious energy wave and with no manpower to protect it's open borders. So the US is open to looters and becoming a battleground. We also pick up with some of the characters from the first book to see how they are faring in the post "wave" world. The main themes here are the battle for New York, street fighting against pirates and insurgents and in Texas where settlers are being subjected to ethnic cleansing.
It lacks the "what if" elements of the first book obviously so that wow factor is missing and you can see where this story is going, but you get to catch up with the characters, and see the landscape of the new world and it's politics as the series heads for it's conclusion. Entertaining stuff.
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on 23 June 2013
Set a year or so after the apocalypse that depopulated most of North America, this book deals with the resettlement of the continent, predominantly the USA. The main perspectives are; a mexican farmer and his daughter, uprooted after a massacre, on a cattle drive; a british adventurer and her comrade-in-arms The Rhino on a journey to New York to retrieve some important papers; President Kipper and his unwanted burden of responsibility and leadership; Caitlin (Commando Barbie!) and her continued search for a terrorist who continues to make her life hell. We also get a few chapters where the story is told from the viewpoint of a young jihadist, a nice touch.

Chaos, lawlessness, opportunities and opportunists are words one can use to describe the overall story arc. One does not always sympathize with the main characters, but their motivations are understandable, given their circumstances. What Birmingham does well is to create well-rounded and believable characters. He also makes such bold moves storywise as to leave you gasping for air. A thrilling read!
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Having finished 'After America', the second volume of John Birmingham's Wave trilogy, I went and took a look at the review of Volume I, Without Warning. It turns out that I could pretty much copy and paste most of that review into this one and it would be equally applicable.

As with 'Without Warning', 'After America' is a highly episodic book, with the narrative swapping, chapter by chapter, between several different stories. Most of these follow characters from the previous book, (although Birmingham has taken the wise decision to move the action on by several years when After America opens so that individuals are in very different places to where they were left at the end of volume), and as before some are more successful that others. This time around I found the espionage plot involving apparent 'super-spy' and all round badass Caitlin the least successful, whilst Miguel and Sofia's trials in Texas felt the most rounded.

Once again the number of parallel storylines is a problem. As with Volume 1 the constant shifting between plots gives the book a disjointed feel and robs it of dramatic momentum. By providing natural breaks in the narrative you don't feel the need to keep reading and for an action packed and overall enjoyable book it took me longer than I would have expected to finish After America; something that was also the case with Without Warning. Thinning the herd of characters somewhat would not have been a bad idea. Caitlin's adventures could have been excised entirely for example, allowing more time to be given to other storylines. Milosz the Polish Special Foces Veteran and his team are particularly underserved by the book's structure, which is a pity as they provide one of the more entertaining plot strands.

On the plus side most of the stories tie in or intersect with one another better than they did in Without Warning, giving this volume a more cohesive feel. The action, of which there is plenty, is as well written as always, and Birmingham's 'what if' concepts remain well thought out and generally plausible. He also leave enough loose ends to ensure that the next volume will have plenty to cover.

So, if you enjoyed Without Warning you're likely to find just as much to like in the follow-up. If, like me, its a while since you read the first book I would recommend skimming it again to refamiliarise yourself with who's who. Shifting events forward and moving everyone around make things a bit confusing at the beginning. Apart from Kipper it took me a while to remember who was who and what their backgrounds were. If you haven't read Without Warning definitely tackle it first; otherwise a lot of what happens in this volume will not make much sense.

I'll be back for Volume 3, as it seems will most of the recurring characters. Hopefully however, as their paths become increasingly intertwined some of the weaknesses that have afflicted Volumes 1 & 2 will resolve themselves.
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VINE VOICEon 28 April 2011
As a follow on from Without Warning I was a little worried that this story might not live up to the first book. I should not have worried too much, as John Birmingham has been one of my most consistently good authors for several years now.

The "energy wave" that all but destroys the USA has gone. Where to and where it came from in the first place we have yet to learn but it has left the USA devastated. The characters we met in Without Warning have moved around quite a bit but they are mostly very familiar if in some cases a little watered down.

The basic plot is that of the USA trying to put itself back together while most of the rest of the world is picking over its bones. The sub plots are a little complex and in many ways actually detract from the real blood and guts attempt at recovery.
Birmingham writes well and his characters are very real both, good and bad but if I have one criticism of this book is that it's purpose is to line us up for a bumper final instalment.

Criticism to pot, I can't wait.

JNB
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on 16 December 2014
excellent novel. well written. Gripping srory.
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on 16 May 2014
Scary science fiction, homing in on how fragile the world scene is, and what it would be like without the USA to maintain a semblance of peace and influence in the world.
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on 25 July 2013
Not as good a read as the other two books in the Trilogy. But the price was good and it was nice to see the link between them all.
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on 15 March 2016
Excellent, difficult to put down grips you from page one John Birmingham one amazing Author
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on 30 December 2010
I looked forward to this all year, big delay as the author broke his arm half way through.

I don't think its as good as the 1st book, quite pacey, but 1 or 2 characters don't really get off the ground, lengthy back story where they seem to go from A to B, very, very slowly with not too much going on, NY is quite interesting but predictable to the point where you know what's going to happen way before anything does.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE what I've read by JB Axis of Time Trilogy is prolly one of my favourite thriller/time travel story, but I feel this book, well... not so much...

JB is on Facebook and Twitter!
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